1 The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, he led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. 2 He led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry.
3 He asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?”
I said, “Lord God, only you know.”
4 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, Dry bones, hear the Lord’s word! 5 The Lord God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. 6 I will put sinews on you, place flesh on you, and cover you with skin. When I put breath in you, and you come to life, you will know that I am the Lord.”
7 I prophesied just as I was commanded. There was a great noise as I was prophesying, then a great quaking, and the bones came together, bone by bone. 8 When I looked, suddenly there were sinews on them. The flesh appeared, and then they were covered over with skin. But there was still no breath in them.
9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, human one! Say to the breath, The Lord God proclaims: Come from the four winds, breath! Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.”
10 I prophesied just as he commanded me. When the breath entered them, they came to life and stood on their feet, an extraordinarily large company.
11 He said to me, “Human one, these bones are the entire house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished. We are completely finished.’ 12 So now, prophesy and say to them, The Lord God proclaims: I’m opening your graves! I will raise you up from your graves, my people, and I will bring you to Israel’s fertile land. 13 You will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you up from your graves, my people. 14 I will put my breath in you, and you will live. I will plant you on your fertile land, and you will know that I am the Lord. I’ve spoken, and I will do it. This is what the Lord says.”
Ezekiel’s prophesy regarding God’s resurrection of the “entire house of Israel” is filled with amazing visions that have captured humanity’s imagination for centuries. He was prophesying about the restoration of the nation of Israel, and the resurrection of the people was necessary so that all might return to their homeland.
Ezekiel proclaims the Word of the Lord to the people of God, announcing that in God’s time and through the Word of God the “dry bones” will live again. The Word of God is later used in John 1:1 where we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And later in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
In this season of Easter, we reflect on the Resurrection of Jesus, the Word; resurrected in God’s time through the creative energy of God. It is no easier for us to comprehend this miracle than it was for the first disciples. Images of resurrection are left to the imagination of the Gospel writers, to the prophets, and to artists through the ages, but none of us really knows what it will be like, when it will happen or how it will occur. Will it happen to us as individuals? Will it happen to a large group of “chosen” people? Will it happen to all of God’s creation simultaneously? Our Judeo-Christian tradition tells us it WILL happen, but the rest is left to our faith and to God’s promise. ALL the people of God will be resurrected, will receive new life, in God’s time by our Creator God’s breath and inspiration.
By Kathleen Stolz
For Pondering & Prayer
When I was a child, we often spent Sunday afternoons with our extended family for a pasta dinner and singing around the piano. One of the songs I vividly remember singing is “Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones,” composed by James Weldon Johnson in the early 20th century. It was my first introduction to this story of Ezekiel and the Valley of the Dry Bones.
What is your earliest Bible Story recollection? Let us give thanks to our families and teachers who introduced us to scripture and gave us a firm faith foundation.
PS If you want a trip down memory lane and hear the song as I learned it, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVoPG9HtYF8